film review: My Life As A Courgette is funny and moving
Oscar nominee and limited theatrical release My Life As A Courgette finally reaches a bigger audience this month as it arrives on dvd, blu-ray and streaming services.
The charming stop-motion film about life in a children’s home is both poignant and optimistic, a real gem of grown-up stop-motion filmmaking.
After the death of his mother, Courgette is sent to live in a children’s home where he’s singled out as a vulnerable newcomer by the home’s tough boy, Simon. But what begins as a frightening leap into the unknown soon becomes a lifeline for Courgette as he discovers love, family and friendship.
It’s easy to see why Céline Sciamma, writer-director of 2014’s uncompromising coming of age drama Girlhood, was drawn to the project adapting the screenplay from the novel by Gilles Paris.
It’s both troubling and uplifting, not afraid to probe the consequences of neglect and abuse. Each of the children has their own anxieties emerging out of difficult relationships with their families. Yet in spite of its troubling subject matter My Life As A Courgette never gets too dark. The animated
medium brings with it a lightness of touch. Insights come primarily from action and expression, the experiences are filtered by a child’s eyes and resilience.
Directed by relative newcomer Claude Barras the lovingly crafted stop-motion beautifully captures the innocence of childhood. The dark circles around the children’s eyes seem at odds with their red ears and noses, with their laughter and cumbersome velocity. Their very features tell us this is not
how the world should be. While Simon believes they are children ‘without anyone left to love us’, what My Life As A Courgette reveals to its adult audience is a protective system in which responsible people are doing their very best. As dependents, Courgette and his friends are ultimately at their carers’ mercy, but their new protectors emphasise the importance of their free will at every vital turn.
Sciamma’s superb writing exposes a complicated and sad existence but one that isn’t without hope. My Life As A Courgette is sweet, funny and moving, a perfect, uplifting animation for modern times.
My Life As A Courgette is available to stream now in its original French and English versions